Apple Studios set to go big on theatrical releases

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Reports suggest that Apple is prepping for a major push into cinema exhibition for its films.

Disney still do it, Amazon is trying it. Even Netflix is increasingly flirting with it. But after a decade of often overlooking the cinematic experience, the major streamers are now all set to be invested in some fashion with theatrical exhibition. The last major player to largely eschew cinema releases was Apple, but Bloomberg is reporting that the company is preparing itself for a major push into cinema exhibition in the near future.

Much like Amazon announced at the end of last year, Apple is planning to divert $1bn towards producing original films which will have wide releases in thousands of cinemas across the US (along with a similar international strategy, we’d assume) giving its films at least one month of cinema exclusivity. Apple Studios has had lots of success critically developing its own projects or acquiring others (such as the Oscar-winning Coda) but in a crowded streaming market, cutting through the noise and making its films feel like ‘event movies’ continues to be a challenge for the company.

With several very high-profile films in the pipeline including Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, Martin Scorsese’s Killers Of The Flower Moon and the as-yet untitled Formula One movie starring Brad Pitt, it seems that Apple have come to the same realisation as the other streamers, which is that a cinematic run is vital in adding all kinds of value to their releases, be it in the form of dollars, prestige or visibility (often all three).

If you’re a regular reader on this site, you’ll have likely seen this coming as the last 12 months have marked something of a sea change in the way the streaming companies view the theatrical experience. Although Netflix is still keen to describe its dabblings in theatrical exhibition as nothing more than ‘a marketing tool’ for a film’s streaming release, a quiet re-evaluation of the value of cinemas has taken place in Silicon Valley and we for one, couldn’t be happier.

With the Paramount Decree of 1948 having been repealed a few years back by the US Supreme Court, we can’t help but wonder if one of these players will look to take the next logical step in the next couple of years and purchase its own cinema chain. Apple, Disney and even Amazon employ bricks and mortar stores in other areas of their business (although Disney shut most of its shops a few years ago), and there was a rumour floating around a couple of years ago that the latter was considering a bid for AMC’s cinema chain. Wherever this takes the industry next though, it seems to be a move that will benefit audiences and filmmakers, and that has to count as a plus.

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